Digital Transformation vs. Intelligent Automation: Why it’s an “and,” not an “or”


Monday, January 13, 2020 | By Richard Clark, Head of Product Strategy, SS&C AWD

Digital Transformation vs. Intelligent Automation: Why it’s an “and,” not an “or”

Digital transformation goes by a lot of names. Ask numerous people what it means and you’ll likely get very different answers. Industry analyst Forrester, for example, uses ‘Digital Process Automation,’ (DPA), in reference to Digital Transformation, while Gartner, another industry analyst, characterizes it as ‘Digital Operations’ or ‘intelligent Business Process Management System (iBPMS). And if you ask most RPA vendors, they’ll simply describe it as ‘Process Automaton.’

By definition, digital transformation takes place when business processes are brought together and aligned with contemporary automation technology across an organization. Workflows become more streamlined, faster, optimized and less risky. That means tasks aren’t siloed, department-specific or done manually any longer. 

That can feel like a heavy lift for an organization, but not always. To keep things in perspective, organizations have to look at digital transformation in terms of a journey for their customers and their own businesses. It’s not just a new web site or new software.

Beware if anyone says “We need to do digital transformation” without getting into the details. Those details are critical and without them, your project will likely fail; in fact, according to some estimates, up to 60 to 80 percent of digital transformation projects fail.

Why do so many digital transformation projects fail? Well, one reason is that most organizations that go into a transformation aren’t looking at it holistically. Digital transformation represents a fundamental change in how business gets done and how you deliver value to your customers.

There’s a lot of talk about intelligent automation, certainly. It represents a more advanced form of what is commonly known as robotic process automation (RPA). Any set of large-scale activities or groups of repetitive tasks that draw on or feed information to multiple systems are candidates for intelligent automation.

Intelligent automation is critical to a successful digital transformation, but the two terms aren’t interchangeable. Digital Transformation is bigger than the sum of its parts and essential to it is intelligent automation, which must include the following six components to be considered successful:

  1. Front-end digitization
  2. Extraction and automation
  3. Process discovery and documentation 
  4. Straight-through-processing
  5. Analytics
  6. Change management

There’s a lot to unpack here, which is why business process management has exploded in recent years. Plenty of companies offer resources to help organizations get started and stay on track for a successful transformation, including SS&C.

Regardless, keep in mind that digital transformation is a journey, not a project. It’s critical to look at things holistically and be prepared to accept and manage continual change. It’s the only way to be successful in the digital world.

Richard Clark is Head of Product Strategy for AWD, SS&C’s leading business process management platform, and a recognized BPM expert. Stay tuned for more from Richard, who will cover the steps you’ll need to take on your digital journey in more upcoming blogs.

In the meantime, watch our short, on-demand "Six Steps to a Successful Digital Transformation" webinar for more on the steps you’ll need to take for a successful digital journey.



Asset Management, Commercial Lending, EMEA, Fund Administration, Healthcare, Insurance, Real Estate & Property Management, Regulation, Retirement, Wealth Management


Theme picker